Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Cummins Falls State Park dedicated. Wonderful event!


Today a crowd of dignitaries, nature lovers, and local people gathered in a forest clearing overlooking Cummins Falls to dedicate the opening of a new state park and to celebrate the 75th anniversary of  the Tennessee State Park system. 

Cummins Falls State Park was officially dedicated, becoming the 54th official state park and the first state park opened in 14 years.

Kathleen Williams reads the sign
Cummins Falls State Park is a 211 acre park located nine miles north of Cookeville on the Blackburn Fork State Scenic River in the rolling hills where Putnam and Jackson Counties meet. The falls are dramatic and are the eighth largest waterfall in the state. The roaring stream gives way to a 75 foot drop into a pool at the bottom, which  Travel and Leisure magazine has listed as one of the top 10 best swimming holes in the United States. 

Last year I had the opportunity to hike down to the bottom of river gorge and swim in the cold waters at the foot of the falls. The hike was a challenge and only for the hearty. A new trail the state has built makes the trek less treacherous but still a strenuous hike.

About 500 people attend the dedication.
This beautiful natural treasure would have been lost without the vision and hard work of Kathleen Williams, President and Executive Director of the  Tennessee Parks and Greenway's foundation and supporters of that organization, various donors, and State agencies and elected officials.   

The York Institute Color Guard prepares
for presentation of the Colors.
Once before the land that adjoins the falls had already been sold to a developer but the developer went bankrupt and the property went back on the market. 

Governor Haslam views the falls
Two years ago the property was being sold at public action and TPGP purchased the property outbidding a Kentucky developer.  The Chairman of the Board of TPGF, Dr. Chuck Womack and members of the board of TPGF and other contributors put up the million and half dollars to purchase the land and then raised the money to repay themselves and eventually sold the land to the state at a discounted price. 

That is the process often used to save critical habitats and beautiful vista's and natural treasures such as cave access sites and waterfalls.  

authentic acoustic mountain music 
The state is less nimble and cannot move quickly when needing to do so, or the State can not do the kind of negotiating that a non-profit organization can do.

Governor Bill Haslam dedicates the new park

Today's ceremonies opened with the presentation of the Colors by the World War 1 York Institute Junior ROTC and a moving solo violin performance of the national anthem. 

Kathleen Williams speaks about the
importance of saving our Tennessee
natural treasures.
Various speakers at today's event spoke about the economic return on investment in Tennessee's natural beauty, about the importance of protecting the bio-diversity of our streams and woods and the importance of preserving natures wonders for future generations. Various people were recognized for their contribution is making the park a reality.  Kathleen Williams was praised for her role in saving the land and making the park happen and Governor Haslam was honored for the role his administration played in the decision of the State to purchase the property and turn it into a State park.  
I enjoyed getting to chat with
the Governor after the event.
  
 Prior to and after the ceremony an acoustic band played traditional music and a barbeque meal was provided courtesy of Wildwood Manor Bed and Breakfast.

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